Pre-Blog Break Shorts & Snorts

The Cincinnati Zoo reported (Tuesday) that Fiona weighs 130 pounds. This is what she does when she’s dreaming.

Monday was Opening Day in Cincinnati. Based on the morning weather reports, we decided to stay dry by not attending downtown festivities … and it didn’t rain a drop! … Damn Obama!

Congratulations of the North Carolina Tar Heels for representing ABK with distinction in the men’s basketball tournament. For those who don’t know, that’s Anybody But Kentucky.

Although their winning streak was surprisingly snapped, a tip of the cap to the UConn Huskies women’s basketball team. Wow – winning 111 games in a row is unbelievable … so I imagine a new streak will start sometime in November.

I enjoy celebrating milestones with a numbers tribute – as the last post was for our 40th wedding anniversary. Our schedule dictated that we go out for a nice dinner the evening before, and it was wonderful. Thanks again for the anniversary wishes.

Count me in on the outcry that penalties should not be based on communication from spectators. The PGA and the LPGA need to put an end to the nonsense!

I can’t recall ever seeing ads on television supporting a Supreme Court nominee. I remain standing firm on my stance of Last Judge Standing, and will continue that position until I feel it is no longer necessary – but I wonder if that will happen in my lifetime.

I continue to avoid watching Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Rachel Maddow. I very seldom read columns by EJ Dionne, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and Eugene Robinson. Why? … I can think for myself and do not need partisans to verify my position. After all, I have it even better because I have all the partisans to prove my point.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell (JA/R-KY) is threatening to impose the rule change known as the Nuclear Option. I say go right ahead because we citizens need more dysfunction based on partisanship. After all, Former Majority Leader Reid (JA/D-NV) did his share to lead the way by setting an example. Follow the lead, jackasses!

Cheers to Stephen Colbert who makes me laugh at the political chaos. I know he’s a partisan, but he still makes me laugh.

April has a way of being hectic. Better weather gets us outside. Golf league for both of us will ramp up. Working hours will increase at the golf course. Taxes to be filed. The handbell choir prepares for Easter Sunday. Dances are to be done. The Masters golf tournament is a must-watch event. Baseball season has started. A room painting project in the near future. Vacations to plan, and more.

This blog has been very steady for almost 6 months, so it’s time for a blog break. Not sure how I will spend it, so don’t be surprised if I go visiting. For the record, more Beach Walks are to come.

To send you into my blog break, this song goes out to the dreaming Fiona. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 324

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Although we were at a dance event, we did get to see the Super Bowl ending. Plus, we recorded the game so we could watch the commercials and the halftime show.

It was great to see former president George HW Bush and Barbara at the game. The announcer got it right by describing Mr. Bush as “the strongest man on the field.”

Congratulations New England Patriots and your fans.

The Sweet Scarletts grapefruit we have had recently have been a step beyond outstanding!

Valentine’s Day is approaching … don’t forget your Valentine!

I will have a timely post this weekend – probably sometime during the last half of Saturday.

I am making progress on transforming the hand-written posts I did last month into electronic versions … and some even into drafts ready for posting here. It was interesting to read comments about writing posts with pen and paper.

Last week I mentioned Cincinnati’s mayor identifying Cincinnati as a sanctuary city. I mentioned the potential loss of federal funds. This week the White House says federal money to Cincinnati for roads, bridges, and other projects is officially in trouble. Now the mayor seems surprised. Hello … anybody home?

This one is so appropriate for the times: If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

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A Venezuelan recently told me that Donald Trump reminds him of Hugo Chavez.

President Trump can talk all he wants about “saying what I mean and meaning what I say” … but he’s forgetting an admirable and necessary trait  … tone!

As Republicans complain about a federal judge’s order to halt President Trump’s executive order on immigration, the same Republicans seem to have short memories about their approach of using the courts to stop various aspects of the Affordable Care Act … but I remember.

I like the White House’s continual point to the media because it is just a matter of time before that well dries up.

Cheers to columnist Kathleen Parker who ended a recent column with this rational words: “Whatever tiny ray of hope people held out in the belief that Trump ultimately would behave rationally — respectful of protocol, with caution and care, without haste and with wisdom — has been extinguished by a strategy of maximum chaos executed by shock and awe. With heads spinning, if they’re not rolling, most won’t know what hit them until it’s too late. It’s called distraction.”

I welcome a rollback of Dodd-Frank, but as long as they also repeal Gramm-Leach-Bliley … and I said that way back when – but I doubt if the Republicans have the backbone to do that.

I’ve never been a fan of retired Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer (who I seldom read) hit the right tone for me in this recent column. Too bad the House Democrats stayed attached to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

For deep readers from a conservative think tank: The Government’s Bad Arguments in Defense of Discriminating Against Immigrants Based on Nationality.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
The comeback in the Super Bowl
The mundane nature of the Super Bowl’s advertising collective
The White House blaming the media
The need to rollback Dodd-Frank
Rising cost of cable and satellite television

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers tips for maintaining composure (important for many Democrats at the moment).

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Trained pony saves Billy Bob Thornton from fire as planned
Area friendship just a series of missed calls
Pretty lady playing hard to follow
Kid security guard brought in to pat down kid passengers
Study: Majority of humans happiest when rest of family still asleep
God pursues the great grandchildren of unsavory merchants and turns them into pillars of salt

Interesting Reads
The high costs of protectionism
The painting that fought fascism
10 forgotten battles that shaped history
Visit the European Southern Observatory
Where Americans live and their ancestral genetics

To lead you into the weekend, here’s another song from Asia. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 322

Many readers have enjoyed the previous two Al Stewart songs I’ve featured in previous OITS. Here’s one more, but this time as background music because the video is just the music (no performance). For those that chose, click here to enjoy Song on the Radio.

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As I work morning news back into my routine, I recently developed a preference for CBS This Morning with Norah O’Donnell, Charlie Rose, and Gayle King. They have more substance and less fluff than their NBC and ABC counterparts, plus more calming than CNN.

We recently saw two movies to recommend, so THUMBS UP to The Founder and Hidden Figures.

If the movie is accurate, McDonald’s Ray Kroc was both a visionary and an asshole who sorely lacked business acumen – but smart enough to surround himself with the right people. Props to actor Michael Keaton for his role as Mr. Kroc.

A toast to Mary Tyler Moore for what she gave us through her life.

January has been a different month for me, so I will explain very soon.

Last week I reminisced about moving. After all, several years ago we moved from our home of 27 years – a home we built, maintained, and improved. Packing and moving is quite the chore, but in the end, there is a sense of sadness when we depart for the last time. The Obamas occupied the White House a much shorter time (8 years), but on a much grander stage. I appreciated this article from Politico about their final moments.

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I continue to worry about the potential lack of Congressional oversight, so this article from Politico was timely.

Democrats can thank their former Senate leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for removing the 60-vote barrier. Just another reason for me not liking the man.

I met my goal of not watching the inauguration, but did see enough reports to be informed.

On his first full day, the way the new administration and their talking heads has treated the importance of something as irrelevant as the inauguration crowd size is both bizarre and telling. All they had to say was something like this: “While we acknowledge the in-person attendance was down from previous years, when also considering television and online viewing throughout the world, all indications point to this inaugural being the most-watched in history.” Oh no, instead they chose to make combative asses of themselves.

I have suggestions for the new administration who feels unloved by the media’s negative reporting.

  • Try a positive tone, not a negative, combative one.
  • Try truthfulness, not head-scratching absurdities.
  • Try portraying a positive image with a vision, not one focusing on doom and gloom.
  • Try respecting people, not humiliating them.
  • Try not making unsubstantiated facts on something meaningless.
  • Learn the difference between right vs. wrong and agree vs. disagree.

PS: Protectionism and isolationism doesn’t work.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist I appreciate. A closing of a recent column echoed the my feelings that I’ve stated here. “Donald Trump is our president. He deserves a chance to prove us doubters wrong; to create a government that he think will bring jobs and money back to the U.S.; to enhance educational opportunities for the less-privileged; to enhance our military defense without yearning to test it; to reform the tax and regulatory codes with deference to economic realities. Pray. Pray that our country survives these next few years and that the new president is both wiser and less impetuous that he seems. It’s the least and best we can do – for now.”

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Spreading of Fake News
The Packers and Steelers not making the Super Bowl
La La Land receiving a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations
California’s rain and snow
John Howell in final preparation of another book release

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides the pros and cons for early retirement.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Anger-bottling factory explodes
Compassionate fisherman doesn’t have heart to throw trout back into polluted lake
Cockroaches feeling optimistic about future of planet
Shrimp would be pissed if he could see the lame party he’s going to be served t
Car rolls up to stoplight blasting Google Maps directions
Spider sitting on shower wall can’t wait to see look on man’s face

Interesting Reads
An inspirational must-read story about a young girl
How to be wiser
Aging and urban divergence
The Oddies Museum
The geographic pivot
(An interactive) How much do you know about what police think

For those who prefer the song at the end of this post or those who want more Al Stewart, here’s On the Border to send you into the weekend. Enjoy the final days of January 2017 and get ready to bring on February. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 106

On Thoughts and Prayers
To the people of Norway for their violence
To the people of Korea dealing with their mega rain

On Politics
GOP Presidential Candidate John Huntsman (R-UT) endorsed the Boehner deficit plan and the need for a Constitutional amendment regarding a balanced budget. Consider this as his first major faux pas for my vote.

Although Senator McCain (R-AZ) recently criticized the Tea Party, he also criticized Senator Reid (D-NV) and President Obama in the same speech. Let us not forget that he is the one who brought The Nincompoop into the spotlight.

The debt ceiling stalemate is all about political positioning by both sides. Here’s a quote from Speaker Boehner (R-OH): (to this party’s members) “Get your ass in here. I can’t do this job unless you are behind me.”

The Tea Party expanded it’s “our way or the highway” approach by stating it is time for Speaker Boehner to go and be replaced by a Tea Party Speaker of the House.

The magic number is $4 trillion over 10 years – the number to stop growth – thus both Boehner and Reid plans fall short.

It’s Week 29 of the Boehner-led House without a jobs bill. To quote Speaker Boehner, “Where are the jobs?”

Interesting Reads
John Avlon
New York Times editorial
Columnist Ruth Marcus
Texting transcript between a Norwegian teen and her mother

Interesting Headlines I Saw this Week
Rupert Murdock is King Lear on steroids
Latex Casey Anthony mask fetches almost 1 million on eBay
Bachmann warns of Dictator Obama
Bad weather, busy roads mean more Ohio potholes
Emergency team of 8th grade civics teachers dispatched to Washington

On Potpourri
My Cincinnati Reds have won consecutive games only once in the past 5 weeks. Going into the trading deadline, it’s time to be a cautious seller.

With the NFL labor strife over, we Cincinnati fans are eagerly anticipating a routine lousy season.

For those remembering the Volkswagen commercial with the kid in the Darth Vader costume, CNN’s Dr. Gupta recently did a wonderful story about the kid who was born with a rare heart defect.

Last fall, George Clooney used Cincinnati for an upcoming film. Here is the just released trailer for Ides of March. Have a good and safe weekend everyone!

On an Unconstitutioinal What If

These pages provide ample evidence that I’m not a big fan of the current Congress. These pages also show that I criticized both sides of the aisle, thus I suspect many people will agree with this post – then again, I know the partisans won’t because they are want they are – biased by definition. So let me set the stage for my proposal.

I’m tired of Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, John Boehner, and Rick Cantor. I’m equally tired of Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, and their lieutenants.

I’m tired of the bully pulpit approach used by the Congressional Democrats; yet I’m also tired of the Republican obstructionist approach.

I’m tired of the members of Congress who don’t have the guts to vote against their party’s position.

I’m tired of more effort going into finger pointing blame than going into finding solutions.

I’m tired of Congress attaching pork to bills.

I’m tired of Congress’s continual failure to attack big issues with a defined purpose.

I’m tired of the Party First attitude trumping the country’s needs.

I’m tired of the effect lobbyists have on Congress.

I’m tired of Congress attaching amendments to a bill that is unrelated to the bill’s premise.

I’m tired of members of Congress who withhold support until they get something for home.

I’m simply tired of Congress. Unfortunately, I can only vote for three of the 465 members: my one representative and my two senators.

I know my forthcoming question is unconstitutional, but it is worth asking. If there was a national referendum to vote every member of Congress out, how you vote?

Remember, every means everyone … not everyone but, or everyone except. Everyone, including those representing you and those that you respect.

On Ideas for Democrats

Recent results in Massachusetts stung Democrats. As they scramble and make excuses, I find it hard to believe that their ways will change. I normally listen to the State of the Union, but not tonight because watching Democrats stand, applaud, and yell while the Republicans sit and pout supports my notion of the problem. Besides, I’m not in the mood for political rhetoric.

Although I doubt if they are interested, here are 10 ways (in no particular order), Democrats can regain support of independent moderates.

  1. Whether through resignation or vote, replace Speaker Pelosi with a moderate, maybe even a Blue Dog. The public does not support her, and she misjudged this 2008 election results.
  2. Replace Senator Reid as Senate Majority Leader. If not, the people of Nevada may deal an additional credibility blow to the party.
  3. Freeze Congressional salaries without a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), and then only ties raises based on the degree of overall annual government budget surpluses.
  4. Cut budgets for Congressional staffing by 10% and limit staff increases to COLAs.
  5. Govern from the center, and if the White House doesn’t like it, tough nuggies! Governing from the center means helping the people while being fiscally responsible. By the way, the public will abandon obstinate Republicans.
  6. Its jobs, jobs, jobs! Besides being laden with pork, the first stimulus aimed at helping public agencies to support the needy people and funding temporary public projects. Unfortunately, President Obama did not sell it that way. A suggestion – Instead of giving businesses money to do something (which could be whatever), give tax credits for businesses doing something that established employment in the 50 states – not elsewhere.
  7. Health insurance reform is possible, so get out of your financer’s pockets, and think outside the box to legislate something the majority of the public can support.
  8. Stop using the “inherited situation” as an excuse. The people know the situation and are tired of hearing that excuse.
  9. President Obama using the veto pen on this own party.
  10. Step down from your pompous throne and get down to governing. I imagine the percentage of Congressional liberals in Washington is higher than the percentage of liberal Americans.

During the campaign, President Obama used Yes we can. In this recent article after the recent results in Massachusetts, Ben Feller (AP) used Yes I hear it. I use this phrase from a commercial, Can you hear me (us) now?

Interesting Reading

On the President’s Biggest Mistake

With President Obama completing his first year, numerous political commentaries exist – although how many are nonpartisan? For a different type of post, I will use portions of past posts (dated) to make my point followed by a concluding statement

Nov 5, 2008 (Day after the Election)
Like all previous election winners, he (Barack Obama) campaigned about changing Washington. Can he transform his inclusive nature with the electorate onto a Washington establishment that resists change? Remember, the current economic conditions, financial systems, terrorist groups, and countries with anti-U.S. sentiments do not give time. Addressing the difficult force of time is about our country, not a political party. Therefore, I believe President Obama needs to govern from the center. Maybe he can. Hopefully, he will.

On Nov 13, 2008
In 2008 independent moderates wanted a change from Bush administration policies, but also saw Senator Obama as too liberal. Independents want fiscal restraint, but anticipate too much spending in a Democratic-controlled Washington.

On Nov 17, 2008
Pressure is on Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to produce bipartisan results and Barack Obama to lead from the center.

On Dec 17, 2008
So, will change occur in Washington? Hmmmm, I doubt it – I do not think the political parties nor the obnoxiously-partisan media types will allow it.

On Jan 23, 2009 (2 days following the inauguration)
Candidate Obama repeatedly campaigned about working toward bipartisan solutions and setting a new tone in Washington – a noble thought. Now for the first major legislation, he relied on the legislative process to produce the bill known as the economic stimulus. Let me get this straight – relying on two partisan leaders with a dominating majority to produce a bipartisan effort sets a new tone?

On Feb 5, 2009
Speaker Pelosi is on a mission to achieve the party’s agenda. Unfortunately, her mission does not match the public’s wants and needs!

On Feb 11, 2009 (regarding the economic stimulus)
Since Congress continues to operate business as usual figuring the president will take the blame, it is time for President Obama to use his political capital by vetoing the bill and toss it back onto the lap of the problem. The people will love it and Congress will face the pressure to be constructive.

On April 8, 2009

  • Speaker Pelosi continues to lead in a partisan manner, thus foregoing a bipartisan response in favor of forcing an ideological agenda.
  • Democratic operatives are lining up at the pork buffet. Sure pork is actually a small portion of the total budget, but it is about principles.
  • Senate Leader Harry Reid’s focuses his effort to back the Pelosi-driven agenda by either limiting Democratic defectors to keep the majority or to gain GOP defectors to get the key 60.
  • Groups as MoveOn.org, the Campaign for America’s Future, and US Action are already targeting centrist Democrats for “standing in the way of the president’s programs.” In other words, the Democrats are using a bully pulpit.

Conclusion
How did I do? Candidate Obama repeatedly campaigned about working toward bipartisan solutions and setting a new tone in Washington – a noble thought, but far from practice. Since the first major legislation he relied on the legislative process to produce the bill known as the economic stimulus, and not much has changed ever since.

Although I do not approve of obstinate Republican tactics, the bully pulpit is also unacceptable. Does relying on two partisan leaders with a dominating majority to produce a bipartisan effort set a new tone? Nope, and now the Democratic is paying the price and giving Republicans upward momentum – and yes, I called that too.